Michael Bay Says He Should Have Stopped Making Transformers Movies
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Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing. For Michael Bay, he thinks he made the wrong choice with the Transformers sequels.
Bay is a true American auteur: his films are emblazoned with the stars and stripes; they often herald – or at least nod to – the work of law enforcement and the military; and they're absolutely chock-full of explosions.
Love him or loathe him, he's a bona fide box-office monster, whether he's blasting Bruce Willis and a team of miners to space in Armageddon, or staging an anthology of war between the Autobots and Decepticons with the Transformers franchise.
Check out the trailer for Ambulance below:
Five years after The Last Knight, and three years after Netflix's 6 Underground, Bay is returning to the big-screen with Ambulance, a Grand Theft Auto-esque pulse-racer starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza González.
Will Sharp (Abdul-Mateen), a veteran in desperate need of money for his wife's surgery, goes to his high-flying, criminally-inclined brother Danny (Gyllenhaal) for help. He can't afford the loan, but he enlists his help with a 'simple heist'.
Sh*t inevitably hits the fan: bodies hit the floor; Danny's crew barely make it out alive; and the pair make a desperate getaway in an ambulance carrying a dying cop and an EMT worker (Eiza González). The chase begins – it's basically Bay's Fury Road.
To mark the movie's UK release today, 25 March, I sat down with Bay to chat about Ambulance and his reflections on the Transformers movies – especially given the first film is approaching its 15th anniversary.
Looking back, he said: "The first one was scary. It was technology we didn’t know would work, and then it became very successful. It was the first time digital effects were that highly reflective, so it broke a lot of new ground.
"It was a fun experience. It made more than [$709 million], that’s a lot of movie tickets and a lot of people that have seen it."
I saw Transformers as part of a double-bill with The Simpsons Movie back in 2007. It was one of the greatest days of my life, and from thereon, I pledged to see every bombastic, blinding Transformers movie in the cinema.
This would be my downfall. Overall, Bay's directorial contributions to the Transformers franchise have grossed well over $4.5 billion, but the drop-off in quality is migraine-worthy.
Revenge of the Fallen, by Shia LaBeouf's own admission, was a bit of a mess, through no major faults of their own (this was the time of the writers strike). Dark of the Moon was a relative return to form, if hobbled by Megan Fox's absence. If Age of Extinction didn't have Dinobots, maybe we'd have all been saved from The Last Knight, far and away one of the most incomprehensible blockbusters of the millennium. The visual effects were extraordinary though, it must be said.
In spite of billion-busting takings, even Bay believes he should have called it a day.
He said: "I made too many of them. Steven Spielberg said, ‘Just stop at three’. And I said I’d stop. The studio begged me to do a fourth, and then that made a billion too. And then I said I’m gonna stop here. And they begged me again. I should have stopped. They were fun to do."
That's not to say Bay didn't give each sequel his all. "I’m passionate about any movie I do, from Pain & Gain to 13 Hours. I like going from big to small, you want to move off the same thing," he said.
"It was cool to do this, a kind of grittier, tougher action movie, a little more hardcore. I got some great performances. I’m excited."
Sometimes even the wisest of man or machine can make an error. The later Transformers sequels may be the filmmaker's biggest sin, but Ambulance is Bayhem at its best.
Ambulance is in cinemas now.
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